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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000604.txt from 1998/03

From: Neil Leupold <>
Subj: Re: Playing outside
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 00:51:39 -0500

On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, rack12 wrote:

> Playing outside imporves your sound because the acoustics are so bad.
> Your sound simply goes out of the horn and up to the sky. You get so
> frustrated with the lack of volume and depth of tone that you are forced
> to those things that are necessary to improve your tone quality. Try it.

I derived a similar effect from playing in an acoustically dead room.
When I lived in San Francisco, I used to practice at Davies Symphony
Hall in the basement practice rooms quite often. The floors of these
rooms are covered with plush carpet, and the walls have very thick
curtains which may be drawn open or closed at the player's discretion.
The rooms could be made very reverberant, or nearly completely dead.
As a member of the S.F. Youth Orchestra, I experimented with these
acoustics all of the time and discovered the very discouraging con-
figuration of playing with all of the curtains drawn closed. Being
true to the character of all clarinetists, I decided to cultivate my
masochism by playing in a dead environment on a regular basis. Every
crappy little edge, every unresonant note, every missed connection
in my playing became painfully evident to me in this environment.
I had no idea how badly I sucked until I started playing in the
rooms like that (maybe I should have tried *blowing* into the
instrument instead). Anyway...there was no hiding from the
problems, and practice sessions became progressively more
productive. After several months of regular practice under
those conditions, I improved to the point of sounding quite
good -- a quality which was exponentiated in even a slightly
more resonant room. I had discovered how to sound effortlessly
good and smooth and clean in a dead room, and the result on stage
with the orchestra was nothing short of miraculous. The trick
was (and continues to be) to memorize the physical sensations
and use them as cues about how much or little air and/or embouchure
support to use in a given situation. I began to rely less and
less upon the variable acoustics of a given environment, trusting
my other senses to tell me whether or not I was playing a passage
properly. This approach is vital in "foreign" audition situations,
where the player is unfamiliar with the room or hall where they
must audition and are unable to warm up in it in order to adjust.

Well...THAT was longer than I expected it to be.


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